Consequences of Conformity, Compliance & Obedience

Understanding human behavior is a complicated venture. Additionally, behavior can be impacted by social roles because social roles bring a degree of expectation to human interaction (Weiten & McCann, 2013, p. 768). These roles and expectations can result in conformity, obedience and/or compliance. This paper explores the question: how has research on conformity, compliance, and obedience informed us about these factors in real-world situations. The paper tackles each phenomenon separately, showing the effects of each respective behavior and their consequences. The conclusion expands on the importance of understanding such behavior and its real-world consequences.

Compliance

Compliance can either be explicit or an implicit request. One way this can be achieved is by manipulating individuals feelings (Ciladin & Goldstein, 2004, p. 592). As Whatley et al. (1999) demonstrated in their experiment feelings of shame and fear could result in public compliance while the feeling of guilt and pity can equate to private compliance (as cited in Ciladin & Goldstein, p. 593).

Additionally, there are several techniques that can lead to compliance in the real world. One is thats-not-all technique. The target is presented with an initial request, which is followed by a deal that sweetens the initial request, complying to which can result in additional benefits for the target (Ciladin & Goldstein, p. 594).

Another is the foot-in-the-door technique. This is when a salesperson gets an individual to agree to a small request and once this agreement has been made, the salesperson introduces a larger request (Weiten & McCann, 2013, p. 787). Lastly, lowball technique relies on a commitment from the target and then, hidden costs are revealed and by that point, the target is already committed (Weiten & McCann, p. 787).

The last two sales techniques rely on individuals self-concept. People have a strong need to enhance their self-concepts by behaving consistently with their actions, commitments, and beliefs (Ciladin & Goldstein, 2004 p. 602). However, individuals whose cultures place less emphasis on self-concept positivity and related maintenance may be less susceptible to tactics that exploit these motivations (Ciladin & Goldstein, p. 605).

Conformity

Conformity could be seen as the act of changing one’s behavior to match another (Ciladian & Goldstein, p. 606). There can be an informational conformity motivation where the individual desires to form an accurate interpretation of reality. Also, normative conformity motivations where the goal of obtaining social approval from others is the reason for conforming (Ciladian & Goldstein, p. 606).

Another view on conformity is the dynamic social impact theory. The likelihood of conformity increases if the group is less diverse and when there is a correlation of attitudes within the group members (Ciladian & Goldstein, p. 608). The similarity of thinking can result in an individual conforming to poor thought patterns (Ciladian & Goldstein, p. 608). Hence, why an accountable and salient environment can result in individuals who make independent decisions (Ciladian & Goldstein, p. 607).

However, there are moments when conformity could be required, for example, when there is a need to follow rules and regulations (Smith & Bell, 1994, p. 192). Traditionally, such conformity is thought to be a result of warnings and punishments (Smith & Bell, p. 192). However, the harvesting experiment produced contradictory evidence (Smith & Bell, p. 192). Two experiments were tested, in which excessive harvesting was to be met with punishment (Smith & Bell, pp. 193-193). The results showed social information and conformity to implicit group norms played a larger factor in whether or not the individual followed the rules than did the threat of punishment (Smith & Bell, p. 196-197).

Additionally, as Martin & Hewstone (2001) demonstrated, if the individual had a strong attitude against the incoming message, they were less likely to conform to outside pressure. While, if the attitude was moderate in strength, it increased the chances of conformity (as cited in Ciladian & Goldstein, 2004, p. 607).

Conformity behavior also suffers if the individuals’ self-concept is strong (Ciladian & Goldstein, p. 611). Tying with the notion of self-concept, Walker & Andrade (1996), demonstrated a possible reason why conformity decreases as age is lowered could be due to the lack of concern young children have for peer approval (Walker & Andrade, 1996, p. 369). Also, it was noted that increasing an individuals confidence and intelligence could result in lowering conformity (Walker & Andrade, p. 368).

Additionally, collectivist countries, more so than individualistic countries, were more inclined to conform to groups (Ciladian & Goldstein, 2004, p. 610).

Obedience

Obedience could be seen as the result of authority derived from one’s position in a hierarchy (Ciladian & Goldstein, 2004, p. 595). One of the most famous experiments on obedience is the Milgram experiment. Milgram demonstrated how easily a civilian can be persuaded to give lethal electric shocks to a random person (Slater., et al, 2006, p 1.). However, ethical issues have been a barrier to studying obedience (Weiten & McCann, 2013, p. 772).

The advancement in technology has opened up different avenues to study obedience. Slater., et al (2006) took advantage of this trend by replicating Milgram’s paradigm in a virtual world (Slater., et al, 2006, p. 1). Participants sent “shocks” to a virtual individual every time there was a wrong answer, this virtual individual protested as the “shocks” grew in intensity (Slater., et al, p. 6). The participant’s heart rate and perspiration were measured during the task and as the intensity grew, so did stress indicators in the participant (Slater., et al, p. 7). However, not once did the participant stop even though it was made clear that there would be no punishment for stopping. So, as the participant showed clear signs of distress, he or she continued the experiment. This could point towards obedience to authority (Slater., et al, p. 9). This potentially opens avenues for studying obedience without violating ethical guidelines (Slater., et al, p. 9).

The importance of studying obedience cannot be overstated for one of the consequences of organization obedience in the past has been the murder of innocent people during the Holocaust (Weiten & McCann, 2013, p. 595).

Conclusion

The effects of conformity, compliance, and obedience come with real-world consequences. Salesmen often use techniques that are meant to gain compliance from their targets. Individuals give into explicit or implicit needs to conform in order to get along with others or to gain some kind of advantage. Additionally, obedience without limit can result in horrible tragedies, the kind that was seen in the twentieth century.

Whether it be group factors, individual self-concepts, self-esteem issues, environmental makeup or some emotional cause that leads people to behave in such a manner, it is of importance to understand each phenomenon. Without knowledge, there is a chance a person can be manipulated. This can entail simple matters as purchasing a product that the individual did not want, to changing how an individual thinks, to following orders that lead to horrific consequences.

 

 

 

References

Cialdini, R. B., & Goldstein, N. J. (2004). Social influence: Compliance and conformity. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 591-622. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142015

Slater, M., Antley, A., Davison, A., Swapp, D., Guger, C., Barker, C., … Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2006). A virtual reprise of the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments. PLoS ONE, 1(1), 1-10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000039

Smith, J. M., & Bell, P. A. (1994). Conformity as a determinant of behavior in a resource dilemma. The Journal of Social Psychology, 134(2), 191-200. doi 10.1080/00224545.1994.9711382

Walker, M. B., & Andrade, M. G. (1996). Conformity in the Asch task as a function of age. The Journal of Social Psychology, 136(3), 367-373. doi:10.1080/00224545.1996.9714014

Weiten, W., & McCann, D. (2013). Psychology: Themes and variations (3rd Canadian ed.). Toronto, ON: Thomson Nelson.

The Archetype Of The Lover

The Lover is the fourth archetype discussed in the book King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. When speaking about The Lover, it is not simply just sexual love but a general appetite for life. A lover of life. The Lover energy is exhibited in the vividness, aliveness and the passion with which one lives life. There is a sense of joy that The Lover feels, delight in all sensory experiences.

The Lover is one who is able to be in the world and in one’s own body without shame. They have accepted themselves and are comfortable with who they are. In doing so, The Lover is also empathetic towards others and is open to the collective unconscious. The Lover is open to the aesthetic consciousness which allows him to read others, understand how they feel but this openness comes with a cost, namely, by being so open, The Lover also feels pain and feels it deeply.

The two shadow forms of The Lover are Addicted Lover and the Impotent Lover. The Addicted Lover is someone who is a victim of his own sensitivity. He is lost in addiction and this stops the individual from detaching and assessing their own behavior. This lack of detachment can also result in having boundary issues. The individual lacks boundaries and principles that allow The Lover energy to be used for its proper purpose.

The Impotent Lover, on the other hand, suffers from a flattened affect. This affect is one that causes a lack of enthusiasm, vividness, aliveness towards life. The individual is unable to be passionate and open himself to the sensory experiences which life provides. One consequence of The Impotent Lover can be a chronically depressive state.

The Lover is last of the archetypes. The other three are The King, The Warrior, and The Magician. All of which I have attempted covered previously. The archetypes can be useful in assessing one’s own behavior. The archetypes can act as reminders for what one is missing or lacking. The King can remind one to be in service for others and try to help someone else be a better version of themselves. The Warrior may remind one to act and not wait for life to come to you, rather, through action, one should create the life they wish to have. The Magician can be a reminder of how much growth is possible and how one can gain knowledge to aid their growth. The Lover can remind you to live life in its fullest capacity and not be afraid to experience both the good and the bad sensualities that life can provide you.

The Archetype Of The Magician

The archetype of the King brings order and creativity. The Warrior brings action and clarity. The Magician also has a twofold role: The Magician is the knower and he is the master of technology. By knowing, it is meant that the Magician has an understanding of knowledge that requires special training. He initiates this knowledge through ritual processes, so, like a master and apprentice relationship where the apprentice learns from the master, who has the understanding which the apprentice requires and in doing so, he comes to follow certain patterns and adopt behaviors that will aid that apprentice in gaining special knowledge.

Also, the fact that the Magician has secret knowledge or understanding, he comes to play an important role in society. He can deflate the ego of the King by questioning his decisions and actions. Additionally, in doing so, he can awaken the King’s conscience.

This knowing aspect of the Magician’s energy is theoretical science. While the applied science is the technological mastery. Technological understanding being the practical knowledge that can be imparted onto another which would include how a certain thing works, what are it’s parts, how to fix it if it breaks and so on.

Understanding and applying the Magician’s energy has three main benefits. Firstly, by having knowledge, it can allow an individual to detach and reflect prior to making an important life decision. Secondly, by pursuing knowledge you also come to terms with what you don’t know and what you need to know and thus, this understanding can help you focus in order to improve. Lastly, the Magician energy can bring clarity of thinking which can be combined with the Warrior energy and one can act with clarity.

Like the previous archetypes, The Magician also has shadow forms. His shadow forms are the Manipulator and the Denying “Innocent” One. The Manipulator can withhold information and knowledge which can then allow the individual to maneuver others to his own benefit. For greed or status or other vices, such Manipulator’s can be anyone from teachers to doctors to psychiatrists. While the “Innocent” One is someone who does not take responsibility that comes with the Magician’s energy but wishes to have its rewards. This individual is often lifeless and envious of others for he does not wish to act but just wants the knowledge.

The Archetype Of The Warrior

The Warrior archetype relates to a total way of life. A Warrior is aggressive for it is an aggressive approach toward life that needs to be adopted in order to access the Warrior energy. A passive living will not do but rather one must take the offensive, face life frontally and pursue the things you want in life instead of waiting around for them to come to you. In this manner, a Warrior does not sleep through life, rather, he is someone who is aware and focused and this is aided by a sense of clarity. He is clear in his desires and wants and hence, knows how to act in order to get them. Clarity is also helped by the fact that life is short. The Warrior understands how fragile life can be and how quickly it can end and so, he is clear in his thought and action as he attempts to decisively achieve his aims.

However, with knowing what he wants, the Warrior must also know his own limitations which might act as barriers in his own life. In doing so, the Warrior is then prepared for the moments of weakness that might come and has planned for them. Plan of action for the worst possible outcome so the setbacks are not as troublesome.

Most importantly, a Warrior does not hesitate. He takes decisive action and hence, he comes to engage life. While at the same time, the Warrior does not overthink because overthinking leads to doubt which can lead to hesitation.

The Warrior is trained, he is disciplined and he is committed. Through training, the Warrior becomes all that he can be in his thoughts, actions, feelings, and speech. With discipline, he comes to control his mind and also learns to suffer in the present in order to gain in the future. The commitment is to something greater than oneself, some ideal that allows detachment from the ego and hence, avoiding the pettiness of everyday life. Such commitment can come in the form of religion, country or an ideal like freedom.

However, the Warrior, just like the King energy, also has a shadow form. The Warrior’s shadow is the Sadist and the Masochist. A Sadist being someone who doesn’t have his mind or feeling under control and uses physical violence and is unable to connect with others. The My Lai massacre is an example of this energy or someone who has a compulsive personality disorder.

While the Masochist is the passive role of the Warrior. He is someone who is a pushover, has cowardly tendencies, has a tough time keeping other’s opinion out of his thoughts and easily gives up.

Personally, archetypes can be a tricky concept to accept. It is not clear if such things are real or not or if they play a significant role in one’s life. However, by adopting certain principles or actions that are associated with these archetypes, one can bring improvement in their life. The Warrior archetype urges movement and decisive action, two things that I know I need to get better at. Far too many times I have been passive and unengaging with life. The existence of such archetypes may be questionable, however, by organizing certain qualities and traits in a manner of archetypes, it can be easier to understand and to apply these qualities and traits in everyday life. By actively thinking about the Warrior archetype and wanting to adopt its mannerisms, one is constantly reminded to engage life and not to hesitate. The Warrior seeks out his life and does not wait for it.

So, when you to reflect on your past and you notice all the times when you could have used the Warrior energy to your benefit but failed, you are reminded then of the necessity of the archetype and through it, the necessity of action.

The Archetype Of The King

Archetypes are understood as universal patterns that are embedded in the unconscious of all individuals, hence, the collective unconscious of mankind. These archetypes are considered to be inherited potentials which can be actualized when we “discover” the archetype within us. When one speaks of the archetype of the King, it is the ideal King that is being discussed and not the individual on the throne. How an ideal King should act and think, how an ideal King behaves and how it is the King’s energy that is important for organizing and creating one’s life.

In the book, King, Warrior, Magician and Lover, authors Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette speak upon the different archetypes and the function of each archetype. Additionally, they mention the shadow form of the archetypes as well, the unfulfilled potential or misguided use of the archetypical energy and how such a thing can lead to immaturity in an individual.

Firstly, it is believed that the King has two main functions. The first is that the King energy is ordering, it brings balance, it is the lawmaking energy. The second function of the King energy is that it provides fertility.

Order starts with the King himself. In order for the society to be good, the King must be good. In order for the civilians to respect the law, the King must respect the law. There is a rippling effect from the King to his subjects. So, if the King lives properly, according to good principles then, his subjects will also feel the effect of this order. There is a sense of ownership with this function. The King must own up to his actions, behaviors, and habits and erase those which bring about negative events and consequences and by doing so, his subjects will follow his lead.

In a household, a father must live the way he wishes his children to live. If the father works hard, he is disciplined, he is able to sacrifice immediate pleasure for something greater in the future, then the children benefit as well. They see and they observe and in doing so, they come to view how to act in life through the proper example of the King energy that their father possessed.

Fertility, on the other hand, is associated with the creative ordering of things. The King energy being fertile means that it is positive, it is creative, it wishes for others to grow and become better. This energy nurtures the talents of others, it guides them and recognizes it. It is not destructive or envious or jealous of what others can accomplish.

With this fertile energy, the husband would support his wives decision if she chose to take a break from work and went back to school. The husband would willingly take on the increased burden of providing financially for the household for in the long term, his wife would be happier and the burden will be lifted. In the same way, if the father decides to take time off from work, the son should willingly take on more responsibility for this is what the King energy would have us do.

However, as mentioned before, each archetype is accompanied by a shadow form. A shadow King is one who sometimes possesses the King energy and acts as a proper King but other times he either acts as a Tyrant or the Weakling.

A tyrant is active while the weakling is passive. A tyrant is essentially a narcissist. He envies creative force for it can create new life which can threaten his position. He cares more about himself and his own accomplishments rather than what is good for the community. Think about the worker who only cares about his own paycheck instead of making the company better. These selfish interests create a selfish individual who cannot stand criticism. Even as a father he may envy his own son. He may not give proper praise to his son for his accomplishments or even take credit for what his son has done.

While on the other side of the spectrum, is the weakling. He is someone who is always overcompensating. The reason being that this individual is not secure within himself so he has a need to be noticed because he feels he is nothing. He needs to be adored and worshipped, always drawing attention to himself because he is not satisfied promoting others. Essentially, the weakling lacks centeredness, meaning there is no order or organization which the King energy is supposed to bring.

Perhaps the best way to access the King’s energy without falling into the Shadow King’s influence is by disidentifying the ego from the King. One has to see themselves as a servant to this energy. This can help deflate one’s own ego by associating one’s accomplishments with the King’s energy rather than your own actions. Also, similar to roleplay, before acting, one should perhaps think what would the King do? How would the King act? By doing so, you may come to a decision that doesn’t just benefit you. It may cause you to rethink and change certain behaviors or reshape aspects of your life where you have allowed laziness to seep in and have become undisciplined. The King’s energy may focus your sight onto the things that are in your control which you have not improved and once you take care of that it may have a positive effect on those around you. Also, by keeping the King’s energy in your mind, you can have a shift in how you view others. You may actively seek out ways to help nurture the talents of other people, hence making your life partially less about yourself and more about the wellness of others.

Nietzsche & The Higher Man

In the book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche put forth the idea of the overman or the higher man is what each individual should attempt to become. The higher man is an individual who follows his or her own path and not the path set by the mob. The higher man must face what makes him or her uncomforable or what they fear. Laslty, the higher man is a process, it is a becoming, you are constantly recreating the path and in doing so, taking action in your life.

One cannot be concerned with the mob, with the popular opinion, with popularity itself when it comes to becoming the higher man. The mob isn’t concerned about the higher man because the mob praises equality above the rest. But with equality comes the tearing down of someone who is attempting to achieve more, to become more than what he or she is. The insistence on equality results in the barrier against reaching ones full potential for equality is used as a weapon so the individual settles for contentment.

I stood in the market place. And I spoke to all, I spoke to none.

Of what concern to me are market and mob and mob noise and long mob ears?

The higher man must look inwards. This individual is concerned with himself and that may sound narcissistic however the idea is that in order to help others, one must help himself first. In this manner, when you focus on yourself and your own actions and you right your actions, then, it can have a trickle down effect on those around you. So, by helping yourself you come to help others.

I have the overman at heart, that is my first and only concern–and not man: not the neighbor, not the poorest, not the most ailing, not the best.

This desire to help others can be dangerous in a sense as well. What is the reason behind your help? Does your aid cripple the individual? Are you helping to make yourself feel better? Is your help a way to stay comfortable and not confront your own mistakes?

Both helping and equality are terms that are viewed highly in most cultures. However, this is what Nietzsche wants recreated by the individual. The reason being that one may help others and in doing so make themselves feel good but also take away the opportunity of growth from another and hence, be there to be helped again at a later point. While, equality is a good virtue but it can also mean stiffling your potential in order to fit in with the rest of the group rather then fully expressing yourself, attempting to reach your potential and becoming “unequal”.

Nietzsche furthermore put forth the idea that one must follow the “nausea” by which he meant that thing that is disagreeable to the mob. It is with this nausea as ones guide that you can discover what is truly important. In a way, one must keep open to exploring that thing which makes the mob uncomfortable, for it may be in this nausea that you find your way. The mob on the other hand is concerned with smaller virtues, they are small people who are enveloped in things that are of temporary concern.

Overcome these masters of today, O my brothers–these small people, they are the overman’s greatest danger.

You higher men, overcome the small virtues, the small prudence, the grain-of-sand consideration, the ants’ riffraff, the wretched contentment, the “happiness of the greatest number”!

The mob rules without reason and hence cannot be reasoned with. So, the higher man must have a mistrust towards such a group.

And in the marketplace once convinces with gestures. But reason makes the mob mistrustful.

In order to reach for the higher man, to become the overman, the individual must posses courage. For the path can be lonely and in more than one way, it must be lonely. The individual needs solitude in this attempt to be separated from the consensus thought and action so one can discover their own thoughts and their own “whys”. Furthermore, the higher man must have courage because the individual has to face the abyss. This must be done willingly, choosing to face the uncomfortable in their life. What they have been avoiding, what they fear, this is precisely what the higher man must encounter and then, attack. This courage is important when you are alone. When no one is watching. For the internal struggles are your own, so your courage must be your own too and not one that is inspired by others because that is not true courage. That courage will leave once people leave but that internal uncomfortability will still be there and that needs to be attacked with courage.

Do you have courage, O my brothers? Are you brave? Not courage before witnesses but the courage of hermits and eagles, which is not longer watched even by a god.

Cold souls, mules, the blind, and the drunken I do not call brave. Brave is he who knows fear but conquers fear, who see the abyss, but with pride.

Who sees the abyss but with eyes of an eagle who grasps the abyss with the talons of an eagle–that man has courage.

Furthermore, the higher man must go on his own. The path is unique to the individual and so, he must not rely on others to help him climb. When one rides the accomplishments of others in order to create their own self esteem or self-identity, they are essentially robbing themselves of the effort and with it the experience gained from the effort and the eventual reward. Also, through this when the time comes to walk on your own two feet, you will find the ground to be unstable, foot steps that don’t match your stride for you did not earn your place here. Then, keeping your place will be impossible because you did not know the struggle.

If you would go high, use your own legs. Do not let yourselves be carried up; do not sir on the backs and heads of others. But you mounted a horse? You are now riding quickly up to your goal? All right, my friend! But your lame foot is sitting on the horse too. When you reach your goal, when you jump off your horse–on your very height, you higher man, you will stumble.

The higher man needs to know himself. What he is capable of? What are his standards? His principles? What can he achieve? How much can you work? How many hours can you go for? This is important because by knowing your boundaries, then you can slowly push further, inch by inch, expanding yourself and what you know and what you can do. You do not overreach in this manner. Rather you use the zone of proximal development, carefully testing your limits and improving.

Do not be virtuous beyond your strength! And do not desire anything of yourselves against probability.

Lastly, the higher man must attempt. He must act. He must live. With this notion comes failure but failure needs to be viewed as possibility for growth. If you fail, then you recreate, you question what you knew that led to that failure, understand what you know now and attempt once more and when you fail again, you recreate once more, endlessly, recreating, questioning, attempting and recreating and in this manner, you are living or as Nietzsche puts it, dancing and laughing.

You higher men, the worst about you is that all of you have not learned to dance as one must dance–dancing away over yourselves! What does it matter that you are failures? How much is still possible! So learn to laugh away over yourselves! Life up your hearts, you good dancers, high, higher! And do not forget good laughter.

Essay: Kafka & The Consequences of Set Truth

Franz Kafka in the story, “A Comment”, speaks of the importance of finding one’s own path in life, discovering one’s own truth (p. 161). However, when one constructs an understanding around their own truth to the point where this truth is set in the individual’s mind, it can lead to biased thinking and sometimes even harmful consequences.

In the “Penal Colony”, the officer’s belief in the truth of his predecessor leads him to develop a dogmatic approach which not only causes him harm but also blurs his understanding of right and wrong. This is demonstrated by the character of the condemned man who is sentenced without having an opportunity to defend himself for the officer believes that the condemned man’s words would be lies while his own judgment is correct (p. 40). The officer’s dogmatic thinking is a result of the past traditions and how things used to be and as a consequence, the officer associates himself with the institution. While the character of the researcher helps contrast the officer’s truth with his own views as the researcher believes the punishment and sentencing to be inhumane and the procedure to lack justice (p. 46). The officer cannot relate to this point of view because it would interfere with his set truth. This idea is taken to the extreme in the story by Kafka for the officer rather condemn himself in the name of justice rather than realizing his own wrong actions and perhaps confronting what he had acknowledged to be true and by doing so, create some new understanding (p. 54).

The theme of judgment and truth is visited in “The Judgement” as well. Kafka displays the consequences of adopting someone else’s truth as your own. Such truth is harder to escape when it comes from an authority figure. In the “Penal Colony”, the officer takes upon his truth because it is related to his predecessor, to the past tradition, hence giving it authority and in “The Judgement”, the truth is that of the narrator’s father, who has always been an authoritative figure in the narrator’s life (p. 6). By taking on this truth, it results in the narrator’s death (p. 12) and similarly, the officer’s death.

Viewing life through one’s own truth is observed in “Josephine, the Singer or The Mouse People” story. Kafka demonstrates a contrasting point of view as the narrator of the text has a different opinion of Josephine and her abilities compared to what Josephine regards to be the truth (pp. 99-100). Josephine has her own truth and in which she believes her art to be important, so much so, that she believes that others need her and her singing (p. 103). The narrator disagrees and even believes if Josephine were to disappear, she would not be missed (p. 108). Furthermore, her truth can be harmful. Due to the fact that she is a popular artist, this allows for large gatherings and the narrator informs the reader that on more than one occasion such large gatherings have resulted in tragedy for it made it easier for predators to find and hunt them (p. 103). However, Josephine believes that she is needed when tragic episodes occur in the community, she believes that her squealing helps people. Here, Kafka shows how ones own truth can bring about contradictory results for her gatherings can cause tragedies as well.

In “Researches of a Dog”, although the narrator attempts a research project, his approach is muddled with his existing biases. In a way, the narrator takes his premise as a conclusion and in doing so, his truth is set and this causes him misunderstanding or at least stops him from viewing things beyond his premise (pp. 132-133). A clear example of this is the fact that the narrator does not perceive human beings (133). He is focused on this belief that food either comes from the dogs wetting the ground or else, it falls from the skies. It is in this narrow view that causes the narrator not to consider an alternative. Kafka is able to demonstrate the constraints truth can have on the individual if they believe it to be the only truth. Furthermore, set truths without flexibility can even cause the individual harm. This is shown in the narrators choice of self-deprivation in order to prove his point. In doing so, the narrator adopts a fasting lifestyle which is contradictory to the communities way of living and this leads to the point where he loses consciousness (pp. 155-157). Additionally, In an attempt to seek his truth, the narrator slowly becomes distant from his community. The narrow thinking brought on by his believed truth results not only in self-harm but also in ostracization (p. 150). 

However, by exploring what he thought to be the truth, it results in the narrator opening himself to what he did not know. In the text, “A Page from an Old Document”, Kafka explores the notion of how by facing the outside, the unknown, it can have an effect on what you had considered to be the truth and so, it can change your truth (pp. 66-67). Similarly, the research dog adds to his research with the inclusion of music in his next project (p. 160).

In “The Burrow”, the narrator gives himself a simple narrative, something that grounds his reality, this being the importance of his abode (p. 170). For the narrator does not feel danger when he is with his passages, chambers and above all, his castle court (p. 177). Here, Kafka visits similar themes explored in the “Researches of a Dog”, for his truth, the simple narrative, has caused him to be isolated from others (p. 173). However, unlike the research dog where the alienation was taken on in order to search for the truth, in “The Burrow”, the alienation is a result of his truth. Furthermore, unlike the “Penal Colony” where the officer never challenged his set truth, in “The Burrow”, the narrator is forced to come to terms that the narrative he has given himself may be false. Kafka showcases this through the foreign sound the narrator begins to hear (p. 178). Due to the fact that the burrow is supposed to be protective, this intruding sound causes the narrator to panic especially when he gives in to the notion that the sound is perhaps coming from something that can cause him harm (p. 181). Furthermore, Kafka also put forth the notion of how when one invests a lot of time in something, the importance of that thing becomes greater and hence, that individual is more likely to affirm their truth because they don’t want to realize that their effort and time was spent on something useless (p. 187). The fact that the narrator has spent so much time working on his burrow, to the point that it has caused him self-harm and deprived him of sleep when he is forced to change his narrative, the narrator finds himself in a disorganized state of mind.

The text is unfinished but perhaps, “A Report to the Academy” can give hints to how having his truth shatter would have affected the narrator. For in, “A Report to the Academy”, the notion that one can transform due to the necessity to survive is explored (p. 80). The narrator of the text learns human mannerism and this allows him to escape captivity. Similarly, in “The Burrow”, the narrator may have had to develop a new thought pattern or a new truth in order to deal with the loss of his simple narrative.

Kafka’s texts act as a cautionary tales towards the notion of accepting ones own truth as the only truth. For this narrow point of view can result in misunderstanding and in some cases cause the individual harm or worse, harm others.